With the 33rd Alaska State Legislature set to convene on Jan. 17, Democrats will control key committee chairs to dictate whether bills get public hearings or are dead on arrival.

Despite holding a 11-9 numerical advantage, all but three Republican Senators opted to cede power to a minority of Democrats by forming a 17-member bi-partisan ruling caucus with nine Democrats and eight Republicans. On Jan. 11, this majority announced its committee chairs and “initial legislative priorities.”

Since Democrats will control the Education, Judiciary, State Affairs and Joint Armed Services committees, there is little chance of conservative legislation ever seeing the light of day on the Senate side.

Republicans who agreed to abandon a GOP majority were granted positions of power, with the agreement that they will not attempt to advance conservative priorities. Issues such as voting integrity, judicial reform, school choice, pro-life and gun rights will likely be marginalized.

Instead, they have agreed to address Alaska’s high energy and healthcare costs, funding and monitoring state-run education, and focusing on hiring and retaining public school teachers.

Full committee memberships will be released on the first day of the legislative session, but the majority has agreed to the following leadership structure thus far.

— Senate President: Gary Stevens (R-Kodiak)

— Majority Leader: Cathy Giessel (R-Anchorage)

— Rules Chair: Bill Wielechowski (D-Anchorage)

— Majority Whip: Click Bishop (R-Fairbanks)

— Chairs of Finance: Bert Stedman (R-Sitka), Lyman Hoffman (D-Bethel), Donny Olson (D-Golovin)

— Legislative Council Chair: Elvi Gray Jackson (D-Anchorage)

— Community & Regional Affairs: Sen.-elect Forrest Dunbar (D-Anchorage)

— Education: Sen.-elect Löki Tobin (D-Anchorage)

— Health & Social Services Chair: David Wilson (R-Wasilla)

— Judiciary Chair: Matt Claman (D-Anchorage)

— Labor & Commerce Chair: Jesse Bjorkman (R-Nikiski)

— Resources Co-Chairs: Click Bishop (R-Fairbanks) and Cathy Giessel (R-Anchorage)

— State Affairs Chair: Scott Kawasaki (D-Fairbanks)

— Transportation Chair: James Kaufman (R-Anchorage)

— Legislative Budget & Audit Vice Chair: Bert Stedman (R-Sitka)

— Joint Armed Services Co-Chair: Scott Kawasaki (D-Fairbanks)

— Finance Committee Members: Click Bishop (R-Fairbanks), Kelly Merrick (R-Eagle River), Jesse Kiehl (D-Juneau), and David Wilson (R-Wasilla)

Conservative Senators Shelley Hughes (R-Palmer), Mike Shower (R-Wasilla) and Robert Myers (R-Fairbanks) were excluded from the ruling caucus, and are not expected to enjoy much power this session.

Click here to support Alaska Watchman reporting.

No surprise: Dems & RINOs set to dominate Alaska Senate despite GOP majority

Joel Davidson
Joel is Editor-in-Chief of the Alaska Watchman. Joel is an award winning journalist and has been reporting for over 24 years, He is a proud father of 8 children, and lives in Palmer, Alaska.


  • Richard Eide says:

    Next election, tell Republican candidates, “I will vote for you only if you promise to caucus only with other Republicans.” Otherwise, what’s the point of voting if you’re in league with the Dems.? I understand compromise is part of the process, but selling out stated values at the onset tells me the fiscal and moral carnage will never end.

    • Steven Chappell says:

      I will not vote for any of these because their word does not mean a dam thing. They have proven that I’m sick and tire of these individuals campaigning one way then flipping when they get down there. I will confront my Senator to her dam face and tell her to GTH out of Eagle River – Chugiak area.

  • David Eastman says:

    Understand that those who throw conservatives voters (and their legislators) under the bus only gain favor in Juneau. They lose nothing in Juneau and have everything to gain from the lobbyists and from their fellow non-conservative politicians. Sidelining those who represent conservative policies in the legislature is perhaps the most effective way of ensuring the death of conservative reforms such as reduced spending (fiscal restraint) and reduced spending on woke policies (moral restraint). There is no state Republican Party to tell turncoat Republican politicians “No” in this state, as current party leadership measures its success by the number of “Republican” politicians who support party leadership, therefore leaving party leadership reliant upon Republican politicians like Lisa Murkowski, Cathy Giessel, Kelly Merrick, Louise Stutes and Bert Stedman for its relevancy, rather than the other way around. Because party leadership desires to be a voice for Republican politicians rather than Republican voters, party leadership actually benefits when conservative politicians and their voters are sidelined. After the eight Republican senators jumped ship, the state Republican Party formally ratified their betrayal of conservatives by voting to officially quash the censure of all Republican turncoat politicians by their Republican constituents. The censure of Sen. David Wilson was passed unanimously by the Republicans in my district, only to be vetoed by the nominal Republicans who currently lead the state Republican Party. “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” has been the mantra of many a “Republican” politician in Juneau, and Republican Party leaders have embraced the same mantra as their own.

    Know that the Democratic Party is pleased to support Republican candidates who will further the Democrat agenda, and it is most pleased to have a Republican Party who will support the Republican legislators who do so. When the smoke dissipates, there are conservatives and then there is the uniparty in Juneau. And yes, conservatives are in the minority. Too often new conservative legislators get caught up in the game of trying to be accepted by the majority of legislators who hold conservatives and conservative voters in contempt. The price for acceptance is always the same, agree to abandon conservative policies and conservative voters when the time comes. It is perfectly acceptable to “hold” conservative positions as a Republican politician in Juneau, just as long as you agree to vote against those positions when the time comes. Today, the Left runs the show in Junea. When your ‘Republican’ senator comes back and boasts about all the influence and power they were able to obtain by gaining the acceptance of those in Juneau, just know that they did so by selling out many of the voters who elected them. They joined a team…and if you are a conservative voter, you aren’t on that team. Watch as some of these very same dynamics work themselves out in the state house, which also elected a majority of “Republicans”, but elected only a very few conservatives.

    • Elizabeth Henry says:

      It seems the Republican Party needs to decide if they are conservative or not. Perhaps this is the problem? I look at the party tenants and it is supposed to be a conservative party. Why are we allowing for this left leaning baloney? Why are we allowing essentially democrats, socialists even, to call themselves Republicans and then slide under the radar and get elected as faux republicans, then jumping ship to their true Party leanings as soon as they get into office? These people are not republicans, they are imposters.

  • Molly says:

    We need the RNC, when they replace Ronna, to censure the ARNC and all 8 oath breakers, Lisa and all other rinos, et al. Can they all be kicked off the Republican party? Censure!? Fines? What will actually work, cause they do not have any “give a damn” left.

  • Elizabeth Henry says:

    The ‘repugnant eight’ are not republicans. They are democrats that have pretended to be republicans to steal the election in their district by duping unsuspecting conservative voters and the highly disorganized Republican Party. They are liars and thieves lacking ethics and scruples. The Republican Party has been hijacked by leftists masquerading as republicans. The Alaska Republican Party needs to get their act together and strongly uphold their platform and get rid of these people.

    • North to Alaska says:

      They are very much republicans. It’s you and I who are not republicans. It’s time us conservatives start understanding that we are the real rhinos and leave?

      • Friend of Humanity says:

        Your twisted words whisper that you are a troll in disguise as a “conservative.”

    • Friend of Humanity says:

      I agree with your statement Elizabeth. RINOs have been using this cheating system so much to their advantage that we cannot get rid of them.

  • Tyranny is here says:

    Stolen Elections have consequences!! GET RID of Dominion machines, Mail In Voting, Rank Choice voting.

  • John J Otness says:

    GIESSEL. Alaska been GIESSELED again.. there’s insanity for ya,,or flat out dominion.

  • micah6v8 says:

    Gary Stevens is a disgrace. He needs to be defeated next election.

  • Johnny Furlong says:

    Corruption has no consequences and integrity doesn’t pay enough.